About the Library
Ozark Regional Library enriches our communities through lifelong learning by providing access to ideas, information, and technology to all residents.
Ozark Regional Library Board of Trustees
|Rita Ann Yount
For over seventy years we've provided library and information services to rural southeast Missouri. Today we provide library service to Iron and Madison counties.
First Public Libraries
Though several subscription libraries existed in Iron and Madison Counties beforehand, the first true public library in the area which would become the Ozark Regional Library system was formed by the Friday Club in Fredericktown in 1908. By 1934 the Fredericktown Public Library (also known as the Fredericktown City Library) had moved into the Madison Hotel on a temporary basis. The same year, Mrs. Ella Deneke was named Librarian.
Things took a bit longer to get established in Iron County. The Arcadia Valley Rotary Club planned for the establishment of a community library in Ironton in 1931, with the library itself opening early in 1932. In 1934 the Works Project Administration (WPA) provided one year’s funding for a librarian for the Ironton Library. With loss of funding, the Ironton Library closed in 1936 but was funded by the WPA again for 1937. The Ironton Library closed again when WPA funding was withdrawn in 1942, but by 1945 was open two days a week in its new home of the Lone Pine Hotel. Alma Fletcher volunteered to serve as librarian.
State Funding and Formation of the Regional Library
In 1946 Missouri passed a State Aid Appropriation Bill for tax-supported libraries. In early 1947 Katheryn Mier, Executive Secretary of the Missouri Library Commission, met with members of the library boards of Bollinger, Crawford, Iron, and Madison Counties to discuss the possibility of forming a regional library system, allowing the sharing of expenses among the various county libraries while providing more comprehensive service throughout the regional system.
In April 1947 both Iron and Madison Counties approved the formation of tax-supported library districts, though Madison County’s was separate from the existing Fredericktown Public Library. That July Bollinger, Crawford, Iron, and Madison Counties signed a contract to form the state’s first regional library system, officially named Ozark Regional Library in January 1948.
Mrs. Frances Moose was hired as Librarian of Ozark Regional Library, starting work on July 1, 1948. At the same time, Ironton was chosen as Regional Headquarters for Ozark Regional Library. In October 1948, state-funded bookmobile service began, with two bookmobiles in service.
Changes and Challenges
In December 1948 Bollinger County withdrew from Ozark Regional Library. The next month Washington County took its place.
In August 1949 the Ironton location moved into the Eidson Realty Building.
Several Librarians came and went in quick succession. In January 1950 Miss Vera Godown became Librarian. She was replaced in May 1952 by Robert Charles Tennyson, who was replaced in January 1953 by Miss Elizabeth Spindler.
In February 1953 Washington County left Ozark Regional Library.
Consolidation and Expansion
In 1955 Ozark Regional Library purchased a new bookmobile and a panel truck to facilitate deliveries between library branches.
In May 1956 Mr. Gene Martin became Regional Librarian. In August of that year a film about the Ozark Regional Library Bookmobile (a project started under Elizabeth Spindler) was shown on the St. Louis KSD-TV station.
In 1957 the Steelville Public Library officially merged with Ozark Regional Library. A branch library was established in Bourbon that same year.
In 1958 the independent Fredericktown Public Library purchased a former office building for its new library location. Cuba Public Library merged with Ozark Regional Library the same year, consolidating all library services in Crawford County with Ozark Regional. In addition, preliminary plans were made to provide library services for the planned community of Viburnum.
In 1960 Ste. Genevieve County joined Ozark Regional Library after a six-month trial period to demonstrate the services Ozark Regional had to offer. The same year, the library purchased a new bookmobile, a 1960 Ford.
In 1961 Elizabeth Spindler returned to the position of Regional Librarian.
Also in 1961 Ozark Regional Library and Fredericktown Public Library cooperated in a one-year Library Services and Construction Act to demonstrate improved library service in Madison County. The collections of the two libraries were shelved together in the Fredericktown Public Library building. The two libraries officially merged in November 1962.
In 1963 the city of Viburnum built its City Hall, which housed a jail, a firehouse, and the Viburnum branch of Ozark Regional Library.
In 1966 Gertrude Zimmer became Regional Librarian.
In November 1967 Ozark Regional Library opened a branch library in Annapolis, the first public library in south Iron County. The first library building was a former chicken house.
In 1977 John Mertens became Regional Librarian.
In 1980 Ozark Regional Library purchased a new bookmobile, known as “The Reading Express”.
In February 1983 the Annapolis branch library moved into Annapolis City Hall. The next year the Ironton library moved into a purpose-built building.
Technology, Buildings, and Changes
In 1999 Ozark Regional Library acquired its first public computers, providing internet access to patrons. The same year the Steelville branch library moved into a purpose-built building.
In January 2000 the Ste. Genevieve branch library moved into the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center, the first building in Ozark Regional Library built with infrastructure for computers.
In March 2004 the Fredericktown branch library moved into the former Johnson Motors building.
In September 2007 the Annapolis branch library moved into the former Nazarene Church parsonage.
In 2012 Keith Housewright became Regional Librarian. Bookmobile services ceased shortly thereafter.
In 2014 Ozark Regional Library automated its catalog through a Missouri State Library grant, joining the Missouri Evergreen consortium.
In 2015 Holly Martin Huffman became Regional Librarian.
In 2016 Ste. Genevieve County left Ozark Regional Library.
In 2017 Crawford County left Ozark Regional Library.
In 2019 Ozark Regional Library left the Missouri Evergreen consortium.
In 2021 Michelle Swane became Regional Librarian.
Former Ozark Regional Library Members
- Bollinger County Library (1947-1948)
- Washington County Library (1949-1953)
- Ste. Genevieve County Library (1960-2016)
- Crawford County Library District (1947-2017)
Ozark Regional Library Bookmobile Service in the 1950s (courtesy of the Missouri State Library)